Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Don Butler: Ford’s Mobility Strategy Is About Trust, Improving Lives

Don Butler: Ford’s Mobility Strategy Is About Trust, Improving Lives

May 30, 2018

Channeling Henry Ford’s philosophy of “open roads for all mankind,” Don Butler, executive director of Connected Vehicle Platform and Product for Ford Mobility, outlined the automaker’s strategy for improving lives through its evolution as a mobility service provider during an opening keynote address to kick off the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference.

As part of its “City of Tomorrow” vision, Ford wants to connect the world’s vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, city infrastructures, and more to a single information-sharing ecosystem using the most advanced wireless technology available to eliminate gridlock, pollution and ineffective mass transit. Known as C-V2X, or cellular vehicle-to-everything, the connectivity strategy also would save lives and create a new level of transportation freedom the world has not seen since the Model T, Butler said.

“We view connectivity as enabling smart vehicles in a smart world and we are committed to being the world’s most trusted provider of mobility solutions,” he said.

Ford announced last year a key next step on the automaker’s connectivity path pledging to equip all U.S. models with built-in modems and mobile internet connection by 2020. Butler said the enhanced connectivity will provide rapid consumer benefits and improve safety.

“We believe robust, secure vehicle communications offers the potential to dramatically improve safety, reduce congestion and help protect the environment,” Butler said. “Accelerating the deployment of these communications requires collaboration across industries and government agencies.”

Butler said Ford’s vision for a connected ecosystem also will require smart regulation, with automakers working collaboratively alongside the public and private sector to craft a common set of laws and guidelines.

“Because these things are developing quickly, we need to work hand-in-hand,” he said. “We must learn together and work together in a harmonized, unified approach.”

Key Takeaways:

  • For Michigan to lead in mobility, STEM programs in classrooms must be accessible by all students.
  • Ford’s acquisition of self-driving car startup Autonomic will help attract talent from Silicon Valley to Detroit.
  • Automated vehicles are here to stay but rush judgments on regulations could hinder progress and technology development.
  • Ford may not be the first to market with new technology, but leveraging a legacy of trust with consumers is more important and will benefit the company’s bottom line in the long run.
  • Ford’s success is due to widespread adoption that it is no longer “just a hardware company” but also a software and services company.